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New RTA Contract Ratified As Discounted Fares Continue

A trolley bus parked at RTA headquarters in Dayton.
Pat O'Malley, RTA
A trolley bus parked at RTA headquarters in Dayton.

The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority board and union members voted to ratify a new three-year contract Tuesday. Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1385 have been without a contract for about two years.   

Credit Pat O'Malley, RTA

The deal settles an ongoing dispute that ended in a four-day strike. The walkout by 450 ATU mechanics and bus drivers left thousands of commuters across the Dayton region without transportation. Full RTA bus service resumed Friday, January 13.  

Union president Glenn Salyer says workers and customers are relieved service is back to normal.

“The people have a new appreciation for the bus drivers and the buses because when you take it away from them, that is when they miss it. And a lot of our drivers are saying they are getting good feedback from the customers. They didn’t like us being out,” he says, “but they’re sure glad we are back. They really appreciate having their drivers”

The new contract includes 2-percent wage increases each year until until 2019, and a lump sum payment into employee Health Savings Accounts--but, Salyer says, the contract also leaves open the possibility of renegotiating the health insurance agreement before June of 2017. That stipulation also opens the door to another strike, with advance notice, if union leaders and management cannot agree on new terms.

The RTA is offering riders a “pay what you want” fare through the end of the month.

In a statement on the RTA Facebook page, CEO Mark Donaghy said the fare reduction is designed to thank riders for their patience during the disruption of transit service. 

“Obviously, anything we would do would have an impact revenue-wise but a long-term loss of patronage would have a devastating effect, so I see this more as an investment back into the community to get people back, especially choice-riders. And we had several people tell us we won’t see them again because of this [the strike], so we are looking for a way to win them back, get them on board and literally get back to what we really do,” Donaghy said.

Riders can continue to pay what they want for bus service through the end of the month.

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Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding Americainitiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.
Joshua Chenault